Palaeolithic extinctions and the Taurid Complex




Intersection with the debris of a large (50–100 km) short-period comet during the Upper Palaeolithic provides a satisfactory explanation for the catastrophe of celestial origin which has been postulated to have occurred around 12 900 BP, and which presaged a return to ice age conditions of duration ∼1300 yr. The Taurid Complex appears to be the debris of this erstwhile comet; it includes at least 19 of the brightest near-Earth objects. Subkilometre bodies in meteor streams may present the greatest regional impact hazard on time-scales of human concern.